2019 Mercedes C-Class Sedan vs. 2019 Lexus IS Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The C-Class Sedan offers an optional Surround View System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The IS Series only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The C-Class Sedan’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The IS Series doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the C-Class Sedan and the IS Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Mercedes C-Class Sedan is safer than the Lexus IS Series:

C-Class Sedan

IS Series



5 Stars

4 Stars




Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

203 lbs.

339 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

421/449 lbs.

271/602 lbs.



4 Stars

4 Stars




Chest Compression

.6 inches

.6 inches

Neck Stress

147 lbs.

197 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

311/161 lbs.

426/505 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Mercedes C-Class Sedan is safer than the Lexus IS Series:

C-Class Sedan

IS Series

Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars




Abdominal Force

147 G’s

193 G’s

Hip Force

452 lbs.

474 lbs.

Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

15 inches




Hip Force

769 lbs.

806 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.


There are over 59 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the C-Class Sedan’s warranty.


The C-Class Sedan has more powerful engines than the IS Series:



C 300 Sedan 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

255 HP

273 lbs.-ft.

AMG C 43 Sedan 3.0 turbo V6

385 HP

384 lbs.-ft.

IS 300 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

241 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

IS 300 AWD 3.5 DOHC V6

260 HP

236 lbs.-ft.

IS 350 3.5 DOHC V6

311 HP

280 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the C 300 RWD Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the IS 300 RWD (23 city/34 hwy vs. 21 city/30 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the C-Class Sedan’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The IS Series doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.


A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes C-Class Sedan, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the IS Series.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the AMG C 43 Sedan’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the IS Series:

AMG C 43

IS Series

Front Rotors

14.2 inches

13.1 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

12.2 inches

The C-Class Sedan stops much shorter than the IS Series:


IS Series

70 to 0 MPH

160 feet

177 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

128 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the C-Class Sedan offers optional 19-inch wheels. The IS Series’ largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the C-Class Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The IS Series doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The C-Class Sedan’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The IS Series doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the C-Class Sedan’s wheelbase is 1.6 inches longer than on the IS Series (111.8 inches vs. 110.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the C-Class Sedan is 1.6 inches wider in the front than the track on the IS Series.

The AMG C 43 Sedan handles at .93 G’s, while the IS Series AWD pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The C 300 Sedan executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.4 seconds quicker than the IS Series (25.7 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 27.1 seconds @ .65 average G’s).


The front grille of the C-Class Sedan uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The IS Series doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The C-Class Sedan has .2 inches more rear headroom, 3 inches more rear legroom and 1.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the IS Series.

Cargo Capacity

The C-Class Sedan has a much larger trunk than the IS Series (12.6 vs. 10.8 cubic feet).

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the C-Class Sedan’s power trunk can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The IS Series doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.


The C-Class Sedan’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. An easy entry system costs extra on the IS Series.

The C-Class Sedan offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The IS Series doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the C-Class Sedan and the IS Series have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the C-Class Sedan is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The IS Series prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The C-Class Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The IS Series’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the C-Class Sedan has standard extendable sun visors. The IS Series doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The C-Class Sedan’s optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The IS Series doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Mercedes C-Class comes in coupe, convertible and sedan bodystyles; the Lexus IS Series isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the C-Class Sedan owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the C-Class Sedan with a number “3” insurance rate while the IS Series is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the C-Class Sedan is less expensive to operate than the IS Series because typical repairs cost much less on the C-Class Sedan than the IS Series, including $427 less for a starter, $297 less for fuel injection, $918 less for a timing belt/chain and $433 less for a power steering pump.


Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its June 2017 issue and they ranked the Mercedes C 300 Sedan higher than the Lexus IS 300 F Sport.

The C-Class Sedan was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2015. The IS Series has never been an “All Star.”

The Mercedes C-Class outsold the Lexus IS Series by over two to one during the 2018 model year.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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